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Majors, Emphases, and Minors

A degree in physics is a 4-year degree starting with calculus.  All of the physics degrees and emphases require a calculus-based introductory physics sequence with labs, a course in modern physics, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, a practical physics course, and an advanced physics course.  Most degrees and emphases also require a course in classical mechanics, advanced electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics.  The degrees differ in the number of semesters of each of these courses, the number and type of required practical courses, and the requirements for the depth and breadth courses.  All degrees and emphases also require calculus I - III, linear algebra and differential equations.  Most degrees require partial differential equations and complex variables, or equivalent.

All of the degrees and emphases in physics have similar requirements in the first two years, so it is possible to explore the major before making a final decision on the degree program or emphasis.  After this time, it is still possible to change degree programs, but there are likely to be set-backs.

Majors, Emphases, and Minors

 All course requirements and offerings are subject to change. Meet with the undergraduate academic advisor regularly to check current requirements. For more information, explore our Undergraduate Handbook.

The Physics Bachelor’s Degree is designed to give students the deepest and broadest understanding of physics to lay a firm foundation for graduate work in physics or related discipline.  The hallmark course sequences of this program include the two-semester classical physics sequence, PHYS 4410/4420, and the two-semester quantum physics sequence, PHYS 5450/5460.  These two sequences provide advanced and in-depth instruction in topics that are the most important for success in physics graduate studies.  This degree also provides practical experience in laboratory techniques, writing, and computer programming.

Core Physics Courses

PHYS 1970

Undergrad Seminar I

PHYS 1980

Undergrad Seminar II

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

PHYS 3760

Thermodyamics and Statistical Mechanics

Advanced Physics Courses

PHYS 3719/3729

Undergraduate Lab/Honors Undergraduate Lab

PHYS 3730

Intro to Computing in Physics

PHYS 4410

Classical Physics I

PHYS 4420

Classical Physics II

PHYS 5450

Intro to Quantum Mechanics

 

Advanced Physics Electives

Select two courses below:

PHYS 5110

Intro to Nuclear and Particle Physics

PHYS 5210

Intro to Gravitation

PHYS 5460

Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics

PHYS 5510

Solid State Physics I

PHYS 5520

Solid State Physics II

 

Core Math Courses

Math 1210

Calculus I

Math 1220

Calculus II

Math 2210

Calculus III

MATH 2250

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

Math 3150/5440

Partial Differential Equations for Eng/Partial Differential Equations

Math 3160/4200

Applied Complex Variables/Complex Variables

 

Core Chemistry Courses

CHEM 1210/1211

General Chemistry I/Honors General Chemistry I

CHEM 1215/1240

Gen ChemLab I/Honors Gen Chem Lab I

CHEM 1220/1221

General Chemistry II/Honors General Chemistry II

CHEM 1225/1241

Gen ChemLab II/Honors Gen Chem Lab II

The Physics Bachelor’s Degree with an Applied Physics emphasis is intended for students who want considerable physics knowledge, but who do not plan on a research-oriented career. It is helpful for those who are planning on doing graduate research in related areas such as engineering or earth science, who are thinking about law school, or who plan on going directly into industry after graduating with their Bachelor’s.  By reducing the total number of semesters in classical and quantum physics from four to two, the Applied Physics emphasis allows students more time for additional practical courses.  Students choose advanced and practical electives to best meet their goals and interests.

 

Core Physics Courses

PHYS 1970

Undergrad Seminar I

PHYS 1980

Undergrad Seminar II

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

PHYS 3760

Thermodyamics and Statistical Mechanics

 

 

Advanced Physics Courses

PHYS 3719/3729

Undergraduate Lab/Honors Undergraduate Lab

PHYS 3730

Intro to Computing in Physics

PHYS 5010

Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 5020

Electricity and Magnetism and Statisical Physics

 

Advanced Physics Electives

Select one course:

PHYS 5110

Intro to Nuclear and Particle Physics

PHYS 5210

Intro to Gravitation

PHYS 5510

Solid State Physics I

 

Practical Physics Electives

Select two courses:

PHYS 3330

Digital Audio and Video

PHYS 3410

Found of Modern Optics

PHYS 3610

Electronics for Scientific Instrumentation

PHYS 3620

Data Aquisition for Scientific  Instrumentation

PHYS 4060

Observational Astronomy

PHYS 5760

Principles of Physical Measurement and Instrumentation

 

 

Core Math Courses

Math 1210

Calculus I

Math 1220

Calculus II

Math 2210

Calculus III

MATH 2250

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

Math 3150/5440

Partial Differential Equations for Eng/Partial Differential Equations

Math 3160/4200

Applied Complex Variables/Complex Variables

 

Core Chemistry Courses

CHEM 1210/1211

General Chemistry I/Honors General Chemistry I

CHEM 1215/1240

Gen ChemLab I/Honors Gen Chem Lab I

CHEM 1220/1221

General Chemistry II/Honors General Chemistry II

CHEM 1225/1241

Gen ChemLab II/Honors Gen Chem Lab II

The Physics Bachelor’s Degree with an Astronomy & Astrophysics Emphasis prepares students for graduate school in Astronomy or Astrophysics.  At its core, it is the same sequence of courses that are in the Physics Bachelor’s Degree, but the depth and breadth courses have been replaced with astronomy electives, allowing students to study astronomy as an undergraduate.  Because it is a strong physics degree, students with this degree also attend graduate school in other areas of physics, or related fields.

 

Core Physics Courses

PHYS 1970

Undergrad Seminar I

PHYS 1980

Undergrad Seminar II

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

PHYS 3760

Thermodyamics and Statistical Mechanics

Core Math Courses

Math 1210

Calculus I

Math 1220

Calculus II

Math 22102

Calculus III

MATH 22503

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

Math 3150/5440

Partial Differential Equations for Eng/ Partial Differential Equations

Math 3160/4200

Applied Complex Variables/Complex Variables

 

Advanced Physics Courses

ASTR 2500

Foundations of Astronomy

PHYS 4410

Classical Physics I

PHYS 4420

Classical Physics II

PHYS 5450

Intro to Quantum Mechanics

Topical Astronomy Electives

Select two courses: 

ASTR 4070

Extragalactic Astrophysics

ASTR 4080

Intro to Cosmology

ASTR 4090

Stellar Astrophysics

ASTR 5560

Stars and Stellar Populations

ASTR 5570

Galaxies

ASTR 5580

Cosmology

ASTR 5590

High Energy Astrophysics

 

Practical Physics Electives

Select two courses:

PHYS 3410

Found of Modern Optics

PHYS 3610

Electronics for Sci Instrument

PHYS 3620

Data Aquisition for Sci Instrumentation

PHYS 3719/3729

Undergraduate Lab/Honors Undergraduate Lab

PHYS 3730

Intro to Computing in Physics

PHYS 4060

Observational Astronomy

 

Advanced Physics or Astronomy Electives

Select one PHYS/ASTR 5000-level or higher course to fulfill this requirement.

The Physics Bachelor’s Degree with a Biomedical Physics emphasis was designed by a professor in the department who holds both a PhD in Physics and an MD.  The degree is designed with the intent of allowing students to complete their pre-med requirements as well as complete a degree in physics.  This is an ideal degree for applying to medical school, dental school, or other medical professions.  Students also use this degree program to prepare to study biophysics or medical physics.  Students choose electives to best meet their goals and interests.

 

Core Physics Courses

PHYS 1970

Undergrad Seminar I

PHYS 1980

Undergrad Seminar II

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

PHYS 3760

Thermodyamics and Statistical Mechanics

Core Math Courses

MATH 1210

Calculus I

MATH 1220

Calculus II

MATH 22101

Calculus III

MATH 22502

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

MATH 46003

Mathematics in Physiology and Medicine

1Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 1250-1260 for MATH 1210-1220-2210.

2Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 2270-2280 for MATH 2250.

3Students may substitute MATH 3150-3160 for MATH 4600.

 

Core Chemistry Courses

CHEM 1210/1211

General Chemistry I/Honors General Chemistry I

CHEM 1215/1240

Gen ChemLab I/Honors Gen Chem Lab I

CHEM 1220/1221

General Chemistry II/Honors General Chemistry II

CHEM 1225/1241

Gen ChemLab II/Honors Gen Chem Lab II

CHEM 2310/2311

Organic Chem I/Honors Organic Chem I

CHEM 2315

Organic Chem Lab I

 

Advanced Physics Courses

PHYS 3719/3729

Undergraduate Lab/Honors Undergraduate Lab

PHYS 5010

Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 5020

Electricity and Magnetism and Statisical Physics

 

Advanced Physics Electives

Select one course from the advanced physics electives and one course from the practical physics electives:

Advanced Physics Electives:

  • PHYS 4210: Optics in Bio
  • PHYS 4230: Molecular Motors
  • PHYS 4310: Physics in Biology
  • PHYS 5110: Nuclear/Particle Physics
  • PHYS 5510: Solid State Physics I

Practical Physics Electives:

  • PHYS 3330: Audio and Video
  • PHYS 3410: Modern Optics
  • PHYS 3610: Electronics
  • PHYS 3620: Data Aquisition
  • PHYS 3730: Computing in Physics
  • PHYS 5760: Physical Measurements and Instrumentation

Allied Courses

Select five credit hours from chemisty, three courses from biology and one biology lab course:

Chemistry Electives:

  • CHEM 2320/2321: Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 2325: Organic Chemistry II Lab
  • CHEM 3000: Quantitative Analysis
  • CHEM 3100: Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 3130: Solid State Chemistry
  • CHEM 3200: Radio Chemistry
  • CHEM 5810: Nanoscience

Biology Electives:

  • BIOL 1610: Biology
  • BIOL 2020: Cell Biology
  • BIOL 2021: Cell Science
  • BIOL 2030: Genetics
  • BIOL 2420: Physiology
  • BIOL 3510: Biochemistry

Biology Lab Electives:

  • BIOL 3215: Cell Biology Lab,
  • BIOL 3515: Biochemistry Lab

The Physics Teaching Bachelor’s Degree is intended for students who plan on becoming teachers in the secondary school system.  It includes all the required courses for an endorsement in Physics through the Utah State Office of Education, a sampling of courses required for the licensure program through the Urban Institute for Teacher Education (UITE), as well as additional depth and breadth courses beneficial for physics teachers.  Students in this degree program should also meet with the UITE advisors.

 

Core Physics Courses

PHYS 1970

Undergrad Seminar I

PHYS 1980

Undergrad Seminar II

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

PHYS 3760

Thermodyamics and Statistical Mechanics

PHYS 3719/3729

Undergraduate Lab

 

Core Math Courses

Math 1210

Calculus I

Math 1220

Calculus II

Math 22101

Calculus III

MATH 22502

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

1Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 1250-1260 for MATH 1210-1220-2210.

2Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 2270-2280 for MATH 2250.

 

Core Chemistry Courses

CHEM 1210/1211

General Chemistry I/Honors General Chemistry I

CHEM 1215/1240

Gen ChemLab I/Honors Gen Chem Lab I

CHEM 1220/1221

General Chemistry II/Honors General Chemistry II

CHEM 1225/1241

Gen ChemLab II/Honors Gen Chem Lab II

 

Advanced Physics Electives

Select one course from the advanced physics electives, one course from the practical physics electives, and one 5000-level course:

Advanced Physics Electives:

  • Any PHYS/ASTR course numbered 3000 or up excluding PHYS 3111 and PHYS 3670.

Practical Physics Electives:

  • PHYS 3330: Audio and Video
  • PHYS 3410: Modern Optics
  • PHYS 3610: Electronics
  • PHYS 3620: Data Aquisition
  • PHYS 3730: Computing in Physics
  • PHYS 5760: Physical Measure and Instrumentation
  • ASTR 4060: Observational Astronomy

 

Education Courses

EDU 1010

Intro to Teaching

ETHNC 25**

Ethnic Studies Elective

ECS 2150

Intro to Multi Cultural Ed

EDU 5170/5375

Secondary Science Methods/Science Methods

Allied Electives Courses

Select one course:

  • GEO 3250: Geology of Utah
  • CHEM 3000: Quantitative Analysis
  • CHEM 3060: Quantum Chem and Spectroscopy
  • CHEM 3090: Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences
  • CHEM 3100: Inorganic Chemistry
  • MATH 3010: History of Math
  • MATH 3070: Applied Stats I
  • MATH 3100: Foundations of Geometry
  • MATH 3210: Foundations of Analysis I
  • MATH 4030: Foundations of Algebra
  • MATH 5750: Applied Math
  • CH EN 3353: Fluid Mechanics
  • CH EN 3453: Heat Transfer
  • CH EN 3553: Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • CH EN 3603: Mass Transfer
  • CVEEN 3210: Structural Loads
  • CVEEN 3310: Geotech Engineering I
  • CVEEN 3410: Hydraulics
  • CVEEN 3510: Civil Engineering Materials
  • CVEEN 3520: Transport Engineering
  • MSE 3061: Transport Phenom in MSE
  • MSE 3210: Electronic Properties of Solids
  • MSE 3310: Ceramics
  • MSE 3410: Polymers

See the undergraduate academic advisor about approval for additional courses.

 

 

Honors College Requirements

2 Intellectual Traditions Courses

6

1 Honors Writing Course

3

1 Honors Science Course

3-4   

Honors Electives

9

Honors Thesis (PHYS/ASTR 4999)

3

For more information about the Honors College, advising, other degree requirements, or how to apply, please visit the Honors College website.

 

Department Requirements

In addition to the requirements for the physics degree, students seeking an Honors Degree must also meet the following requirements:

  • B or better in all courses required for major
  • PHYS and ASTR GPA of at least 3.5
  • Overall GPA of at least 3.5
  • Complete 20 credit hours of approved honors course work within Physics & Astronomy and Allied classes.

 

For more departmental information about Honors, click here

 

Honors Courses

Courses offered by the Department of Physics & Astronomy that fill Honors elective requirements are:

PHYS 3210

Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 3220

Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 3729

Honors Undergraduate Lab

PHYS 4410

Classical Physics I

PHYS 4420

Classical Physics II

PHYS 5450

Intro to Quantum Mechanics

PHYS 5460

Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics

PHYS 5510

Solid State Physics I

PHYS 5520

Solid State Physics II

ASTR/PHYS 5560

Stars and Stellar Populations

ASTR/PHYS 5570

Galaxies

ASTR/PHYS 5580

Cosmology

 

The physics minor is designed for students outside of the major to gain an deep knowledge and understanding of physics. 

Any University of Utah student with a declared major other than physics can add a physics minor.

Physics minors must complete all general education and College of Science requirements and have a GPA of at least 2.0 in physics courses combined. All physics, math, and chemistry classes must be passed with at least a C- grade. The credit/no-credit option may not be elected for any course used to fulfill the degree requirements for a physics minor.

 

Required Physics Courses

Select up to ten credit hours from the list below:

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

4

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

1

PHYS 2235

Computation Lab for Physicists

1

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

4

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

1

 

Upper Division Courses

Select six or more credit hours of upper division approved coursework, totalling 16 credit hours.

 

To fulfill requirement, student must take any Physics or Astronomy course numbered 3000-5999, except:

PHYS 3111, PHYS 3210, PHYS 3220, PHYS 3670, PHYS 3949, PHYS 3970, PHYS 4800, PHYS 4999

Astronomy is a profound and fundamental science that has never ceased to fascinate the general public and attract the imagination of students. 

Any University of Utah student with a declared major other than physics can add an Astronomy minor.

Astronomy minors must complete all general education and College of Science requirements and have a GPA of at least 2.0 in physics, astronomy and mathematics courses combined. All physics, astronomy and mathematics courses must be passed with at least a C- grade. The credit/no credit option may not be elected for any course used to fulfill the degree requirements for an astronomy minor.

 

Required Courses

MATH 1210

Calculus I

MATH 1220

Calculus II

MATH 2210

Calculus III

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

ASTR 2500

Foundations of Astronomy

 

 

Elective Courses

Select three courses from the list below:

PHYS 4060

Observational Astronomy

ASTR 4070

Extragalactic Astrophysics

ASTR 4080

Intro to Cosmology

ASTR 4090

Stellar Astrophysics

ASTR 5560

Stars and Stellar Populations

ASTR 5570

Galaxies

ASTR 5580

Cosmology

 

Students declaring this minor must have declared a teaching major in another subject.

 

Required Physics and Math Courses

PHYS 2210/3210

Physics I for Scientists & Engineers/Physics I for Scientists

PHYS 2215

Physics I Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 2220/3220

Physics II for Scientists & Eng/Physics II for Scientists

PHYS 2225

Physics II Lab for Sci & Eng

PHYS 3740

Intro to Quantum Theory and Relativity

MATH 1210

Calculus I

MATH 1220

Calculus II

MATH 2210

Calculus III

MATH 2250

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

 

1Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 1250-1260 for MATH 1210-1220-2210.

2Qualified students are encouraged to substitute MATH 2270-2280 for MATH 2250.

 

Other Requirements

EDU 5170/5375

Secondary Science Methods/Science Methods

 

Select at least one course of upper division approved coursework:

Any Physics or Astronomy course numbered 3000-5999, except:

PHYS 3111, PHYS 3210, PHYS 3220, PHYS 3670, PHYS 3949, PHYS 3970, PHYS 4800, PHYS 4999

 


How do I declare a Physics major or minor?

Becoming an undergraduate Physics major is a simple process, starting with admission to the University of Utah.

Any student can become a physics pre-major by specifying "Physics" on their application to the University of Utah, or informing the University Registrar. It is advisable to do this early to ensure receiving information about the major and staying advised of any changes that may be made in degree requirements.

In order to become a full major, a student must first meet with the academic advisor. All students must have a 2.0 GPA and pass all physics courses.

All new transfer students are required to meet with an advisor and attend an orientation session before they can register for their first semester at the University of Utah. For more information about how credits will transfer and when to apply to the University of Utah, please visit the Transfer Center.

Major and Minor Declaration Form

 

Last Updated: 9/10/19